Published on 5 November 2021

Carpenter ants are found in different regions of the world, such as in America or in Europe. Lots of people mistake termites for carpenter ants and vice versa even though they possess different characteristics. 

carpenter ant

Identification of a carpenter ant

The United States is home to over 1000 species of ants including 50 species of Carpenter ants (Camponotus), each specie having specific characteristics. However, carpenter ants are among the largest ants, workers measure from 1/4″ – 1/2″ long and the queen up to 1 inch long. They can be identified by their small and narrow waist and their long legs. They also have elbowed antennae, and the reproductive ones have two pairs of unequal-sized wings. and the most common color is black but some of the species can be reddish or yellowish. Ant workers have large mandibles which are meant to help them forage. Carpenter ants do not eat wood, but workers burrow through wood with their mandibles to excavate galleries to establish their nest.

carpenter ant swarmer

Reasons of carpenter ants' infestation

carpenter ant nest infestation

As carpenter ants are attracted to moisture, they look for any type of leaks around an accommodation to establish their colony. The leaks can come from pipe leaks, gutter leaks which cause moisture and humidity.

Carpenter ants revel in building their nest in moist wood, or any structures that are already damaged by other insects. They nest outdoors in hardwood trees containing holes and other damages. When they are looking for a new home, carpenter ants seek moist, steady temperature and a place that is hidden from predators and sheltered from environmental changes. Regarding indoors nest, they can be found in damaged and moist areas such as windows, chimneys, sinks, doorframes, or bath traps and in hollow spaces such as wall voids.

Carpenter ants’ nests are difficult to find. To try to identify a carpenter ants’ infestation, you can top on a wood surface: if it sounds hollow it indicates that the wood is damaged and that carpenter ants may be inside the wood.

Carpenter ant swarming season

Regarding swarming seasons, they differ from one ant specie to another. Carpenter ants swarm during springtime. Like termites, they leave their nest to mate and find another location to start a new colony. Females carpenter ants look for moist locations to lay their first batch of eggs. The queen’s wings break off and will lay eggs in her new nest, and the male ant dies. It takes 3 to 6 years to establish an active and stable ant colony.

Once the queen has laid her eggs, it takes 6 to 12 weeks to develop from egg to adult. Carpenter ants go through different stages: egg, larval, pupal, and adult worker.

If you find a swarm inside your home, it could mean that a nest is also indoors. The best solution is to contact a professional pest management to avoid any damage.

carpenter ant swarming season

How to spot carpenter ants' infestation

First of all, as a homeowner, you can notice several wings inside your home near windows sill or on your floor. This could mean that a nest is nearby, and it is important to contact a pest professional for an inspection. Unlike termites, carpenter ants do not consume the wood. When they burrow through wood, tunneling smooth and clean galleries, they leave sawdust behind, which is also called frass. You should look out for frass indoors and outdoors; it usually indicates carpenter ants’ presence. Regarding the damages, you can look for external structure damage, like on a fence, deck, or shed. They tend to damage in moist areas, such as rotten and decayed wood. You may also hear tunneling and communication noises with a stethoscope, especially at night.

How to avoid carpenter ants' infestation

You can prevent carpenter ants’ infestation by repairing all moisture problems: plumbing leaks, roof leaks, etc. You should also trim any tree branches that are close to your home because they use it as a bridge to access any entry points, even the tiniest ones. To avoid having any entry points, you can also seal off any opening or cracks that could lead to ants entering your home. Avoid storing and keeping piles of wood or tree trimmings near your home: they are good nesting spots for carpenter ants. In case of active infestation, follow these steps to get rid of Carpenter ants.